TOBIAHS IN GOD’S STOREHOUSE: RESTORING BREAD TO THE PRIESTHOOD

  1. The Millennial Costs of a Nation’s Transgressions

For about 135 years, Judah had been virtually in ruins spiritually and politically, as amplified in the persisting broken walls and burnt-out gates that were the physical and visible indications of those lamentable transcendental conditions (Lamentations 1:1).  Nearly the whole population had been forced into exile as part of divine judgment following the nation’s repeated and recalcitrant backslidings. It was a regrettable eclipse upon a proud civilization.

Suddenly, God began to move: the people started to return to their ruins, after many decades; the temple of God, long desecrated and spoiled, was reconstructed; the wrecked walls of the city were restored, and its crippled gates rebuilt.  It was sunrise again upon the desolated land and its ancient ruins.

  1. The Restorations

At the dedication of those walls whose reconstruction marked the last phase of the nation’s restoration, so much spiritual revival was experienced.  That revival also touched the people’s purse so much that they were glad to cater for their ministers – the priests and the Levites.  The Bible records that “Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites” (Nehemiah 12:14, New International Version). The result: they gave so bountifully to the work of the Lord that some priests had to be especially appointed to oversee the ceaseless stream of offerings into the overflowing storeroom at the temple.

What was the effect of the congregation’s new zeal on the ministry and the ministers of God?  “They performed the service of their God,” and they did it properly “according to the commandment” (not according to their greed and lusts) as ALL Israel contributed the DAILY portion” for God’s work, without complaints (vv. 45, 47, NIV).  Note the word “all” – meaning rich and poor, big and small, old and young; and note the word “daily” – which means even on non-worship days.  In other words, Sabbath day or not, the offerings poured in.  Marvelous.  The Golden Days of honoured priesthood returned.

  1. An Enemy in the House

Not long afterwards, we read of a different state of affairs, that the “Levites and the singers, who did the work [forced by necessity] had each fled to his field” (13:10, Amplified).  Wow!  What happened? What so early was attacking the new zeal in the land?  Who or what had forced the priests to flee to their fields?  The same verse gives the answer: “The portions of the Levites had not been given them” (v.10, Amplified).

OK, but why the strange new neglect of the priests?  A prominent enemy had taken up the storeroom, making it a posh private lodge, with no more place for the erstwhile precious tokens for crucial priestly supplies.

That evil stratagem of displacement in the Storeroom was in collusion with an insider priest who was in-law to the now-resident outsider and adversary.  Tobiah the Ammonite and Sanballat the Horonite had been the arrowheads of the determined oppositions against Nehemiah’s efforts at rebuilding the reproachingly wrecked walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:3-4; 4:1-3).  It was that Ammonite that had taken residence in the critical storeroom at the temple of God. He and Sanballat were men who hated the Restoration; men of whom it was repeatedly said, “it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel” (Nehemiah 2:10, 19; 4:1).  A hater housed.

Of Mr Tobiah’s ancestry, this is what the Scripture says: “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever” (Deuteronomy 23:3).  Whether Hon. Tobiah was an Ammonite by birth or by political appointment over the territory of Ammon, I cannot say, but the Bible identifies him as an Ammonite, and so he stands to me.  If an Ammonite was not to enter even “into the congregation of the LORD,” what much more was an Ammonite doing in the House of the Lord?  What treachery, what diabolic romance, what strange connections!  What Satanic manipulations have warranted this blatant transgression of the law of the Lord?  Who was behind this?

  1. An Economic Jihad

Tobiah’s strategic ‘posting’ into the Treasury of the House of God was another ‘economic’ approach in the enemy’s age-long efforts to frustrate any form of development in the land of Judah.  Blackmail and intimidation had failed.  Other clever infiltration attempts had failed.  Military aggression had not succeeded to deter the determined rebuilders of the New Judah. Now the enemy was resorting to a frustration of the finances of the house of God; specifically targeting the uprising ministers of God.  Starved, those men of God had been forced to flee into alternative and supplementary means of survival.  Becoming justifiably ‘busy’ in that process of pursuing ‘legitimate’ daily bread, they gradually began to lose touch with their primary call as in the revival days of the recent past.

Listen to this:

4 Eliashib the priest, who had been appointed as custodian of the Temple storerooms, and who was also a good friend to Tobiah [related by marriage to that adversary], 5 had converted a storage room into a beautiful guest room for Tobiah (13:4-5, Living Bible).

No wonder. Tobiah again! Resorting to a different tactic in his continuous battles to frustrate God’s restorations in Judah!  Infiltration; religious infiltration; infiltration without borders!

  1. Infiltration by Marriage

Eliashib was a Jew, not a gentile; he was a priest (actually a high priest) in the house of God, not a sorcerer in Babylon.  His name meant “whom God restores,” or simply, Restoration.  Meanwhile, ironically, he became the enemy’s agent against the fulfilment of his name to the re-emergent nation of Judah.  He was an insider-enemy against the restoration for which he outwardly stood.  While he openly ‘worked for God’ he also secretly worked for ‘the other side.’

How did Rt. Rev Eliashib get there?  He was related by the covenant of marriage to Tobiah and Sanballat.  He was “allied unto Tobiah” the Ammonite (Nehemiah 13:4).  Tobiah had had his son marry the daughter of a priest, and even the high priest had had his grandson married to a daughter of the politically eminent Sanballat.  Both men, over time, had artfully maneuvered themselves into unlawful alliance with the priesthood.  Perfect strategy: infiltration by marriage (Nehemiah 6:17-18; 13:28).

Romance and infiltration by marriage were particular intrigues that Satan deployed to destructive advantage against consecutive rulers of Israel: Solomon, Ahab, Jehoram, Samson, etc. (1 Kings 11:3-4; Nehemiah 13:26; 1 Kings 16:31; 21:25; 2 Chronicles 21:6).  Even Saul once thought to employ that devilish tool against the rising David when he offered that young man a wife unasked for, a trusted girl to be planted on him so that “she may be a snare to him” – not a “help-meet” according to God’s pattern in Genesis 2:18 but a trap (1 Samuel 18:21).  What a gift!  What a wife!  Beware of traps packaged in wedding gowns.

  1. Costly Displacements for Hon. Tobiah

Taking a room in the house of God meant displacing the many costly treasures that were housed there.  That a trusted high priest would do that was a shocker – God’s priest aligned with the enemy outside; the rat in the house that opens the door to the bigger rat in the street…

And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests (Nehemiah 13:5).

Let’s take an inventory of the displacements by the intruder: first, the room – “a great chamber.”  I cannot say how “great,” whether as great as a warehouse or just as great as a very large room, but it was verily “a great chamber.”  In that place there used to be choice meat offerings” (in plural) which were food for the priests; and sweet-smelling frankincense that perfumed the space; and vessels – of gold, silver, brass, and more, that beautified the place; and tithes (in plural) of many things; and new wine” that brought joy and celebrations; and “the oil” for healing and anointings; not just “oil” but “the oil.” 

All those items had to become past tense for the outsider to find a place in our house – in the Lord’s house.  Alas, “the evil that Eliashib did,” which, according to Nehemiah, “grieved me sore,” as any righteous person would have been grieved.  But did it matter to Rt. Rev. Eliashib that he had become the source of great grief in the house of God and to the people of God?  No.  What mattered to every proper Jew was not what mattered to him, so far as his private pleasures were served.  He cared less how every other person felt, if there was something in it for him.  What a priest, what a high priest!

The passage states that the room was used “aforetime” for those treasures.  In other words, the treasures had already ceased from the room before Eliashib dressed the place for Tobiah.  My perception, however, is that the conspiratorial spirit of Tobiah and Eliashib had gradually been evacuating that choice place, to subsequently make an excusable room for the intruder and displacer.  Tobiah’s blatant occupation was merely the later apparent phase of a process long secretly begun.

Watch out: Tobiahs are eyeing our storerooms again.  Some of them are ‘in-laws’ – strategic romantic connections of yesterday for the inroads they seek today. May stern Nehemiahs arise, with an impartial and incorruptible rod in their hands, to cast them out and cleanse the chambers, that bread may return again into the storehouse of our God. Amen.

  1. The Rod of Nehemiah

The temple had been starved of meat for the priests because those offerings no longer came in; and because those priests of God were not receiving their ministerial dues as before, they had ‘fled’ for their lives to their farms and to other forms of private businesses.  The genesis of the crisis was the enemy who had colonized the financial strongroom, and thus equally paralyzed spiritual revival in the entire land – because one of our priests gave him our cherished room, not minding the abomination and desecration that he was bringing upon the cause of the Lord through his Ammonite affiliations.

Nehemiah did not need a forty-day fast to know the source of the problem. He did not try to be diplomatic and politically correct in promptly addressing the aberration.  Many times, we go wrong trying to be politically correct with people who think it their right to wrong us.  Nehemiah promptly “cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.”  Hallelujah!  Tobiah had no more place in our holy House and in God’s storeroom.  Then “they cleansed the chambers” that the Ammonite had polluted, and they brought in “again” the treasures that Tobiah had displaced, and the revival resumed.  Once more, the storeroom was replenished with “the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense” (Nehemiah 13:8-9).  Hallelujah!

What followed the drastic intervention of Nehemiah?  Your guess is as good as mine: “THEN [note the word “then”] brought ALL Judah [once more “all Judah”the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries [storerooms]” (Nehemiah 13:12, KJV).  Revival had returned, revival killed by one selfish high priest working for an ardent enemy and infiltrator.

Nehemiah was not going to stop there.   He had to ensure a structure to prevent a recurrence of the recent disaster.  He appointed “treasurers over the treasuries,” men who were generally “counted faithful” – that’s where the previous problem started: giving titles and exalted offices to unfaithful men (v.13).

Imagine the great ministerial disaster that one Tobiah had caused, through the connivance of one priest more faithful to his personal and selfish affiliations than to the cause of the holy God!  Alas our shame from men who bear our name but live for our enemies!

  1. A Prayer

O Lord our God, today, we eject from our storerooms all Tobiahs, in Jesus name.  And may the priests who collude with them be cast out with them, in Jesus name. May the headlines in the land hereafter confirm that this prayer has been answered.  Amen.

From The Preacher’s diary,
October 30, 1999.

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Oyeyemi Oluranti David
Oyeyemi Oluranti David
1 month ago

Been blessed by this eye opening message. It has come as another confirmation of an imminent revival coming soon upon the globe. For the past two weeks The Lord has been visiting me with the same theme on revival again and again.
Thanks very much for sharing.
Pour out YSpirit once again Lord, and , may You find us as instruments of honor in Your great and mighty Hands. Amen.

Peace Amala
Peace Amala
1 month ago

Very Insightful.

APOSTLE ONYECHI DANIEL
APOSTLE ONYECHI DANIEL
1 month ago

Very insightful! Very exciting!! Very challenging!!!

Collins Ejikeme
Collins Ejikeme
1 month ago

Glory

Bolanle Musa
Bolanle Musa
1 month ago

Amen and Amen. Everything…ideologies, agendas and every evil complicit in corrupting the Church of God and our anticipated revival is hereby judged and gotten rid of in Jesus mighty name.
Come, Holy Spirit of power and revival

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